AT PEACE: The tranquilty of Red Rock hides dark secrets from colonial times.
AT PEACE: The tranquilty of Red Rock hides dark secrets from colonial times. Rachel Vercoe

Map draws attention to events in the region's colonial past

A DARK chapter in local history is back in public view following research done by the University of Newcastle.

Australia's first interactive map created by university researchers showing sites of the deaths of First Nations people during colonial times has identified a site on the Orara River where more than 20 Bundjulung people were killed in 1841.

With Crown Lands Commissioner JG Macdonald leading a posse of settlers, the camp near the river was surrounded at night before the attack began at dawn.

The action was in retaliation for an alleged theft from Ramornie Station.

However, further investigation saw a white settler named Lynch charged with the offence.

The listing was made from written evidence from the period and Indigenous oral history but the research team headed by Professor Lyndall Ryan says more corroboration is welcome.

"The biggest argument in the scholarship of massacre is how do we know it happened," Professor Ryan said.

"Most massacres took place in secret and were designed to not be discovered, so finding evidence of them is a major challenge.

"This digital tool brings significant historical information out of the depths of archives, bringing it to life in an accessible and visual format."

Over 150 killing sites are listed with this number likely to exceed 200 in the next two years of research.

One of those likely to be listed is the notorious Red Rock Massacre at Arrawarra for the events oral histories say took place in the 1880's.

European settlers are said to have chased the Gumbaynggirr people from their camp at the river to the headland where many innocent people lost their lives.

Red Rock is referred to as Blood Rock by the local Garby Elders who regard this as an extremely sacred site and a place for reflection.

A memorial has been established on the headland to mark the event and recognise the brutality that occurred at this place.



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